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Br Dent J. 2004 Sep 25;197(6):331-4; discussion 323.

Patient expectations of emergency dental services: a qualitative interview study.

Author information

1
Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia. Rob.Anderson@chere.uts.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the expectations of walk-in patients seeking emergency dental care out-of-hours.

BASIC DESIGN:

Consecutive patients attending two emergency dental clinics at weekends were interviewed prior to seeing the dentist. The audio-recorded interview transcripts were analysed using the "framework" method of applied qualitative data analysis.

SUBJECTS AND SETTING:

Forty-four walk-in emergency dental patients at a community-based dental clinic and a dental hospital emergency clinic at the weekend.

RESULTS:

In addition to symptom relief, the main desired outcome for emergency dental patients may be informational and psychological--especially reassurance that the problem is not serious, and reduced uncertainty about the cause of the pain. In general, patients' stated expectations for specific treatments (such as antibiotics, or tooth extraction) were not absolute: rather, they implied these expectations were conditional upon the dentist deciding they were necessary.

CONCLUSIONS:

Emergency dental services, some of which are still dominantly treatment-focused, should reflect that many emergency dental attenders want advice and reassurance as much as relief from symptoms. This reinforces the importance of effective and sympathetic dentist-patient communication within emergency or out-of-hours consultations. It also implies that dentists' skills in listening, explaining and reassuring should be captured in any patient satisfaction or outcome measure designed for this patient group.

PMID:
15455000
DOI:
10.1038/sj.bdj.4811652
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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